Diana Finfrock Farrar interviewed by Darren Marples Edited by Tom Weise
Where did you grow up?
Dallas Texas • USA
How old are you now?
54 years old
Tell me about yourself?
I’m a native Texan and financial adviser who loves hiking, snow skiing, traveling, and am an ordained deacon and elder in the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) where I sing in the choir every Sunday. Blessed to have been born into a family that taught me how to live a life of faith, love and relationship — the idea of family has always been at my centre.
I understand that you have both been married in the past?
I guess you could say I’ve lived both sides of this thing we call “equality”. I was married to my husband for 20 years and I experienced all the legal and social benefits afforded to married couples. Yet after my divorce I fell in love with my best friend, Charlotte. She and I were married in Canada in 2010, and I’ve now felt the legal and social discriminations aimed at couples like us.
Tell me more about your relationship and how you feel about your sexuality.
Our first marriages were not facades, we both truly loved our husbands. And yet now, I am able to love Charlotte, who had been my best friend for about fifteen years prior to our marriage. As I don’t feel attracted to women in general – it’s Charlotte whom I love – I don’t necessarily identify as lesbian. However, as I am now married to a woman I can’t really say that I’m straight! We don’t know what to call ourselves, and we don’t understand what enabled us to look at each other’s soul instead of our outward vessels (gender), but we were given that gift, and for that we are grateful. Our sexuality is apparently “fluid” – to use modern day terms in search of an appropriate label. We don’t feel any different than we ever have, and we still live in the same Texas neighbourhood outside of Dallas. We share five children and three grandchildren.
How did you tell people about your relationship?
We didn’t tell anyone about our changed relationship, not even our children, until we had been married for over a year. We were keenly aware of the risks of coming out, but we had become weary of the constant editing of our lives, and the potential rewards ultimately outweighed our fears. We told our children first (one at a time) and then siblings, extended family and friends, and we were met with nothing but caring, understanding and sincere happiness.
Did you experience any negativity?
Yes unfortunately, not all of our “telling” experiences were positive. A decades-long church minister friend separated himself from us – due to his theological understanding of scripture. And we’ve made the decision to “unfriend” several folks from Facebook because of anti-LGBT rhetoric based upon similar biblical understandings. Although these types of experiences were hurtful, Charlotte and I have come to realise that even we weren’t able to acknowledge and accept our feelings for each other overnight, and so we fully understand that others will need time to gain understanding and acceptance. So we pray for open hearts and open minds, and the patience we must all have until that happens.
But buoyed by the overwhelming acceptance we had experienced, and seeing how our “coming out” had actually helped several people resolve issues they had previously struggled with, I began to realise that it was the personal connection that made all the difference in the world. When a person knows and loves someone who is gay, their hearts and minds change. Seeing the difference our coming out made in the lives of others was soon followed by a calling to tell my story, to make an even bigger difference.
Is your experience of your coming out why you wrote your first novel?
I penned my first novel with the hope of educating readers on the issues of empowerment, injustice, and compassion, and encouraging the LGBT community and those who love and support them to live more open lives. My novel begs the reader to think for themselves instead of “borrowing” others’ opinions and belief systems as their own, additionally it affirms the LGBT individual and those who love them.
What or who inspired you?
I was inspired by Harriet Beecher Stowe’s American classic, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, as well as the reason she wrote it. She was motivated by her faith: she couldn’t abide seeing Christianity used as a justification for validating slavery. And I wrote The Door of the Heart for the same reason: I could no longer stand silently and witness the use of my Christian faith being used as a weapon against the LBGT community.
And also like Ms. Stowe’s novel, The Door of the Heart is a work of fiction but it’s based upon real people and current events, and yes, some of it’s even autobiographical. I wrote it in real time between September 2012 and the summer of 2013. The story is set in Texas, historically a very conservative state, and illustrates the struggles people living there face with regard to tradition vs. change, faith vs. fear, and tolerance vs. acceptance.
Tell me about your novel?
The Door of the Heart opens with a gay high school athlete being bullied by the son of a prominent Texas politician, Ed Sloan. The event goes viral and as a result of the incident, Ed’s wife Tammy suddenly finds herself on the opposite side of her powerful and conservative husband on the hot-button issue of gay rights. Tammy finds her voice and then challenges her Christianity as she begins to consider gay rights from a new perspective for the very first time.
I take the reader through several story-lines and you will meet many characters whose stories weave together in various, and sometimes surprising, ways. And yet there is one common thread in them all – the illustration of how our actions, or inactions, have such an effect on people – for good or for bad.
Because readers – gay and straight alike – identify with characters and events, the book really hits home. I have heard from many readers saying that reading it changed their lives. And at least five California movie executives have ordered copies for possible feature films.
What differences as an American do you see between America and Europe?
Europe is so far ahead of the States when it comes to social issues, but America has made great strides in the last few years. The repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013 afforded married same-sex couples federal benefits, and on 26 June 2015 the Supreme Court’s ruling compelling all fifty states to perform and recognise same-sex marriages was monumental. Until that ruling, my five year marriage was not recognised in my home state of Texas, and therefore numerous benefits had been withheld from us.
Are you involved with any LGBT projects?
My involvement in equality issues began with writing my novel, but my advocacy quickly blossomed into speaking to book clubs, local church groups, PFLAG groups, and Gender Journey classes; being interviewed by Huff Post Live, Lambda Weekly, Robert Christian Show; writing articles for Family Equality Council, Freedom to Marry, Texas Writers’ Association, and the Dallas Voice; lobbying state lawmakers; addressing City Councils and encouraging their support of Equal Rights Ordinances; attending appellate court hearings regarding equality issues; speaking at the State Bar Annual Meeting regarding LGBT rights and legal / financial inequalities; participating in Pride festivals and parades; and also being published in the editorial section of the Dallas Morning News on a regular basis.
And on a final note!
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Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/1uKPn19